"I'll be home for Christmas, you can count on me."
This was our longest trip to the States since we moved to Grand Cayman, about 3 weeks total. It was such a nice change. I didn't feel like I was rushing or constantly counting down the days. We got to fit in more visits with friends, and still had plenty of time for family and holiday merriment. The first half of our time in Cincinnati was packed with wedding anticipation, but we got to squeeze in some other fun as well...
Putting up the tree
The day after we flew in, my parents invited the whole family over to have a tree decorating party. It was fun decorating a real live tree again, especially with the ornaments I remember so fondly from my Christmas past.
Steak 'n Shake
Don't ask me why, but I have a very soft spot in my heart for Steak 'n Shake. Brent and I used to frequent the Westwood location on a regular basis, and I've really missed the place these last 14 months (hard to believe with all the good eating we do in Grand Cayman, but it's true!). So Brent and I were happy to take Jack and Noah for their first visit. Yay for seasonal shake flavors (eggnog for the Swartzentrubers and peppermint chip for the Kruithofs)!
Jack really didn't want to put on this hat, but we bribed him with a cookie. Totally worth it.
Festival of Lights
I haven't gone to Cincinnati Zoo's Festival of Lights since I was a kid, so I was thrilled when Amy and Zach asked if we wanted to go. It was a treat to spend some two-on-two time with the soon-to-be newlyweds. The lights were wonderful - I tried to follow my map to get to every single one of those exhibits. Plus we got to see the polar bears, elephants, and giraffes (Brent's favorite). It was a blast; I hope it becomes a new tradition.
Swan Lake, my favorite!
Deck the Halls
Even with the wedding, my mom did a great job making the home feel festive and cozy.
View from front porch, vintage ornaments on the mantle
We had the annual Bongey Christmas party a couple days after the wedding. And though I didn't take many pictures, I had to share this one of the chocolate covered cherry mice Anna made. Aren't they wonderful?
Closing off with a couple random pictures of our oldest nephew, Jack. He's at such a fun age. We really enjoyed doing another slumber party with him this visit. I was amazed that he remembered I had a different colored toothbrush last time we were home. Brent taught him the joys of a slinky and made up an awesome bedtime story involving three reindeer named Brenty, Kiki, and Jack.
I'd have to say that he's the world's best (and most handsome) uncle. Next up...more uncle and aunt time with those Greenville kiddos!